Scopes Monkey Trial -- Sarah Palin and O.J. Simpson Would Fit Right In
The famous 1925 State v. Scopes "monkey" trial was an epic struggle of Science versus the Bible with superstar lawyers, a media frenzy, and a political backdrop. Sound familiar?
In May 1925, Tennessee teacher John Scopes agreed to be indicted in order to test a new Tennessee state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution instead of creationism to public school students. Two months later, Scopes was put on trial. The Scopes trial became a media circus worthy of O.J. Simpson, including the first live radio broadcasting of a trial, and a chimpanzee in the audience. Tennessee hired superlawyer and three-time Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan as chief prosecutor, and megalawyer Clarence Darrow volunteered to defend Scopes.
In this excerpt from the Scopes trial, Darrow puts Bryan himself on the witness stand -- which the judge had moved outside to the courtyard lawn to accommodate the massive audience -- to discuss whether the Bible should be taken literally. To me, the exchange between these two legal titans over perhaps the biggest issue of all time, complete with grandstanding and cheering spectators, as if the trial were a sports event, is about as interesting as a thing can get.
A week later, just days after the trial ended, things got even more interesting as William Jennings Bryan, who in many people's minds Darrow had destroyed on the witness stand, lay down to sleep and died. Or, put another way, he rested.
Too bad Clarence Darrow isn't around today to ask Sarah Palin about those humans and dinosaurs living side by side at the creation of the world, just 6,000 short years ago.
(William Jennings Bryan/Clarence Darrow photo credit: CORBIS/Bettmann)